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Thursday, November 21, 2019
MRC Bogus Study Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's signature work of "media research" is a study purporting to gauge how "negative" coverage of conservatives and their causes in the "liberal media" whose methodology is so shoddy and narrowly constructed that it seems to have been devised to create a preordained result. And the MRC was sure to trot it out again as it works to defend President Trump over the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Cue Rich Noyes, in a Nov. 12 post:

MRC analysts have reviewed all coverage of President Trump and his administration on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts since 2017. Following the beginning of the impeachment inquiry on September 24, this coverage has been even more hostile than normal: Out of 684 evaluative comments included in these broadcasts, a whopping 96 percent have been negative, vs. a meager four percent that have been positive.

As we've repeatedly pointed out, this study, like earlier ones in this genre, 1) focuses only on a tiny sliver of news -- the evening newscasts on the three networks -- and suggests it's indicative of all media; 2) pretends there was never any neutral coverage of Trump by explicitly rejecting neutral coverage in favor of dishonestly tallying only "explicitly evaluative statements"; 3) fails to take into account the stories themselves and whether negative coverage is deserved or admit that negative coverage is the most accurate way to cover a given story; and 4) fails to provide the raw data or the actual statements it evaluated so its work could be evaluated by others. 

What the MRC measured cannot be extrapolated into an evaluation of coverage across the entire broadcast meda -- it excluded cable news, and the MRC never does these kinds of studies on the work of Fox News --  it can't even be extrapolated into an accurate evaluation of the coverage on the three networks since, again, it cherry-picks  "explicitly evaluative statements" and ignores all other coverage.

Noyes went on to complain about specific subjects about which Trump received especially "negative" coverage -- impeachment, of couse, as wellas Trump's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, about which he groused that "journalists routinely framed it as “abandoning” an ally (the Syrian Kurds) in the fight against ISIS."

But fair and accurate reserach isn't what this report is about; using those dubious numbers to get attention from Fox News empire is. Thus, MRC chief was granted two appearances on Fox Business -- to push those bogus numbers, which he talked about only as "coverage" and the narrowly tailored, cherry-picked numbers from selected sources they are in reality, falsely asserting at one point, "Almost 100 percent of the media coverage is against Donald Trump." Similarly, the MRC's Nicholas Fondacaro referenced the study's finding of "96 percent negative coverage" without the numerous qualifiers that would have made that statement accurate, as did Joseph Vazquez in a later MRC post.

Needless to say, Bozell and Tim Graham devoted their Nov. 13 column to the findings, lying that the numbers reflected the "tone of overall coverage" when it did nothing of the sort; they too omitted a complete listing of the study's bogus methodology.

The latest version of this stock study shows once again that at the MRC, the facts aren't important -- the narrative is.

UPDATE: Speaking of perpetuating the narrative, the MRC's "news" division contributed to it by devoting an article to a glowing review of the study by the MRC's favorite right-wing radio host, Mark Levin, who absurdly gushed that the the MRC is "a solid organization, come hell or high water." Did the MRC pay Levin to say that?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:14 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2019 10:18 PM EST

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